Getting Through the Anniversary of a Parent’s Death

This Sunday is the anniversary of my mom’s death. Although I’ve pretty much healed over the past 6 years, I have never gotten through the days leading up to the anniversary of her death, the day itself, or the days after without crying, or sometimes completely breaking down, Six years have passed since my mom died – I think of her in some way every day and I miss her.

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Peekaboo

No matter where in the world you grew up or what your first language was, you can be pretty certain that when you were a baby, your mom and dad used to play a game with you: peekaboo. To play, they’d perhaps duck behind behind a couch, or maybe hide themselves behind their hands before your face – in those early days, it wouldn’t take much to trick you. And then, just like that, they’d be . . . gone! And little you would be confused and even scared, thinking that this person — for you, the very most important people in the whole world — were no longer there. And then, after some time, they’d once again pop up before you, or simply pull their hands away to reveal themselves there . . . and you’d laugh in wonder and surprise, because your mom or dad had been suddenly gone, and now here they were, magically back again!

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Newly Acquired OCD

From my personal experience, when my mother was sick, I became obsessive about a lot of things. After her death, my behavior continued for a short period of time. Before going to bed, I had to check to see if all of my mother’s possessions and all of the things she had given me were in their proper places. I had to tell my dad that I loved him, bid him goodnight and promise him that I would see him tomorrow. I was afraid that if I forgot to say one of those things something would go terribly wrong. If I didn’t act on these impulses I couldn’t sleep.

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Family, Friends, and Psychologists

When things are hard, we all need somebody with whom to talk. Death is hard; there’s no getting around it. It’s a part of life that is absolutely necessary, yet incredibly troubling. When you’re close with your parents, you can go to them for advice if you have a problem. But to whom can we go to when our parents die? When bad stuff happens, a parent can comfort you. When a parent is no longer there, you can feel helpless, alone, and confused. There are other people who can talk to you, give you advice, and comfort you.

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Birthdays, Anniversaries and Parent Days

These can be rough. Just when we think we are finally stable, we find ourselves having a fierce desire to scream at the universe again. For all of these special days, different things can be done to remember your parent and possibly calm you down. I personally have a mini-panic attack when I do some of these things, but many people find them helpful. You can go to the cemetery to see your parent’s grave, post a picture of your parent on Facebook, eat your parent’s favorite food (we eat sushi) or watch your parent’s favorite movie (we watch “The Incredibles”). Television and sports are extremely good distractions. Screaming into pillows is also pretty great.

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First Birthday Without

I am writing this with a full, but very personal and idiosyncratic understanding of this subject, because today is my birthday. Though it is only 9 AM, I can say with the confidence gained from experiencing nine hours on my birthday so far, that it is not that bad. For me, although oftentimes my dad would be gone on my birthday morning, he would still be there later to give me my annual birthday squeeze and exclaim, “My big girl is ____ today!”

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